Boldly Going…

A bit of context: Since 2009, before I even lived in Southampton, I ran a game of D&D there and made friends with some people, one of whom I consider a close friend and who I still meet with weekly to play RPGs.

Usually we play D&D (4E, now 5E) but after unsuccessfully ending our excursion into Ravenloft in a TPK (Every time he DMs the party dies!) we opted to try out the relatively new Star Trek Adventures by Mophidius.

I must admit that I was slightly offput by the Mophidius affiliation. I used to play Infinity a lot, and saw their alpha/kickstarter preliminary release for that as an RPG. Frankly I thought it sucked. Clunky and generic, it didn’t inspire me to even give it an attempt at playing so I didn’t bother with the kickstarter.

I was also afraid at the rate of which they seemed to be acquiring licences to various IPs and churning out RPGs based on them using their ‘2d20 system’. It’s not that I have anything against them as a company, I just wonder how focused a small company can be when they’re producing new games at a rate of knots! However despite my apprehension the system looked interesting. It seemed to draw on mechanics from FATE and used a d20 pool based system which in itself is a bit novel.

Aside from D20s the game uses special 6 sided effect dice that are marked 1/2/-/-/*/*  You can get a set of 4 of these and 3 d20s for about £18 retail which is about twice what a sensible price point should have been. I made my own using blank dice and a handheld engraving tool. I get that it’s got the Star Trek licence, but at the same time it’s not an excuse to gouge prices.

Additionally despite the sexy LCARS computer style of the layout and design, the game lacks Klingons which is clearly being held for a future splatbook. Considering they are a protagonist race I was surprised. I understand that they’re not in the federation but again they must have realised that players would want to play a Klingon – although it would probably require a lot of exceptions and become the ‘drow’ of the system!

Anyway onto the system – the core mechanic – an attribute + a skill to determine the target number which you have to roll equal to or under is fine. It’s all of the other stuff stapled on – there’s values, momentum, determination, talents and traits. All of these are basically FATE aspects and fatepoints with a different name and made much more confusing. Momentum is something you get by achieving more successes than you need and can be used to buy extra dice or re-roll damage and other effects. Basically FATE points. But they are applied in a very metagaming heavy method.

Case in point are the skill challenges – some of them are literally unachievable unless you have maxed out stats and the corresponding focus and pump a lot of momentum into it. They get easier as you succeed but the odds of succeeding initially are extremely low. Add to that a time factor and if you screw up the first roll you might as well be toast!

Ship to ship combat is a nightmare too. We have been playing pre-written adventures so it’s not a case of a bad GM.

That being said, I really like the setting and it tries to incorporate a lot of Star-Trek like themes. However, we’ve decided to axe the system and use FATE instead because ultimately that is what the system obviously was based on before it got ‘2d20’ stapled to it’s face!